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Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff was online Wednesday, May 30, at 2 p.m. ET to chat about D.C. United, MLS, Europe and anything else soccer-related.

The transcript follows.

Goff covers the D.C. United beat for The Washington Post and writes the Soccer Insider blog for

Discussion Archive


Steven Goff: Good afternoon!

Greetings from Estadio RFK, where United just finished up training with an interesting scrimmage (check the Soccer Insider for details this afternoon).....

Let's get to the questions.....


Bethesda, Md.: So any truth that DC is interested in Salas? Also have you heard anything about Will Chang's interest in purchasing an EPL team? Thank you.

Steven Goff: Chicago is chasing Salas. Haven't heard anything about D.C. -- they seem to have enough forwards.

I asked Chang about the story saying he was interested in purchasing an English club. He laughed. He said he gets calls all the time about potential investment opportunities but he is not seriously pursuing anything at the moment.


Arrrlington: Given all the recent changes, and his being subbed out of the last game, what's the outlook for Freddy at RSL?

Steven Goff: The outlook for most RSL players is grim. (ouch)

Freddy is settling in under a new coach. His long-term goal is still Europe, but he will need to perform well at the U-20 World Cup this summer to attraction serious attention.


Fredericksburg, Va.: What do you know about this Kamani Hill person who's been called up for the China match? I like to think I've at least heard of all the Americans playing abroad, but I have no idea who this is.

Steven Goff: Grew up in the Bay Area, played two seasons at UCLA, headed to Germany. He's 21 years old, legitimate young prospect.


Annandale, Va.: Steve -- superb work with Soccer Insider. I think it's great that it gets so many hits from fans outside of D.C. because you're scooping their local media sources.

My questions for you:

1. Loved the article on Marc Burch. How high up the depth chart is he -- is he really DCU's first outside defender off the bench? Or is this more a function of McTavish and Wilson being gimpy at the moment?

2. I expected DCU to benefit from the Olimpia and Chivas series. In hindsight, do you think that competition may have hurt D.C. United in preparing for the MLS season because the style of play is different, DCU got fewer preseason games against other MLS teams and didn't face sides who knew them well (so the 3-5-2 issues didn't show up as glaringly in the Cup competition as they did in the first three games)?

Steven Goff: Thanks for the kind words. The Insider appears to have filled a national void. We'll keep it going...

I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Burch in a real game soon. Certainly, the injuries have improved his chances, but the club likes the way he has embraced a new position.

DCU had a legitimate excuse after Champions' Cup when they lost at Colorado in the league opener (fatigue, travel, etc), but that's where it ends. I think they were overconfident heading into the MLS season and were exposed in the back by teams that know their strengths and weaknesses better than foreign clubs.


Washington, D.C.: Any chance we'll see Arguez this year?

Steven Goff: He will likely miss much of the summer while with the under-20s. As far as DCU, he's still got a ways to go.


Yorktown, Va.: Who is going to be the U-23 coach and when will they start calling camps and preparing for the Olympic qualifying?

Steven Goff: I have no insight on the Oly job situation, but seems Nowak and Sorber will run the show. Olympic qualifying will take place in the United States in early 2008.


Rocko: Any more news on the tribute match for El Diablo?

Steven Goff: It will be prior to the last home game of the season. I believe New York is off that weekend, so guys like Arena, Williams, Harkes can make an appearance. From what I can tell, the 1997 MLS championship team will be honored and perhaps play (sort of!) against a Latin squad. Still being worked out...


Washington, D.C.: What is wrong with the LA Galaxy? For a team with the U.S. national team captain, shouldn't they be faring a little better?

Steven Goff: Injuries have been an issue, but clearly LA has been a huge disappointment. And with Donovan off to Gold Cup next week, they could really be in serious trouble before Beckham arrives. I think you will see a very determined LA team this weekend vs. DCU -- they're desperate. I will probably write about the Galaxy for Saturday editions.


Chest Rockwell, Md.: Steven:

What's the tone of this week's practices? Has there been any talk of avenging L.A.'s 3-2 win at RFK last season?

Also, with Moreno potentially being gone for a stretch in the Copa America, will we see Fred get a shot up front (which would open up a wide midfield slot for Casal as well)? It's not a knock on Kpene, but I think that such a lineup would be a worthy experiment.

Steven Goff: The players are well aware of their problems with LA the last few years. That "3-2" loss at RFK was actually 5-2 last August.

Yes, at some point, I think we will see Fred in a withdrawn forward role. He seems more comfortable in the middle of the pitch or up top than out on the flank. Kpene's emergence, though, has changed the equation a bit.


Washington, D.C.: Steve,

How do you see Gold Cup and Copa America shaking down? Surely, they have to be a favorite along with Mexico.

Does The Post plan to report the games?

Steven Goff: U.S. team should breeze through the first round of Gold Cup and eventually make the final. Obviously, I am not as optimistic about their Copa hopes. I'd be surprised if they made it out of the first round. In the big picture, although Copa is far more prestigious, the Americans have to be more focused on Gold Cup because it is their regional championship. They are simply guests at Copa and, while the experience is priceless, their expectations should probably be tempered.


Goffenberg, Bavaria: That was some pretty odd officiating in the United/Dynamo your opinion, since the league began using full-time referees, has the quality of calls gotten better, worse, or stayed the same?

Thanks so much for these chats.

Steven Goff: Ah, Bavaria! Nice town, Goffenberg...

The full-time officiating program is definitely a long-term project. I don't think we will see quality reasons for quite a while. It's a step in the right direction.

Having said that, I agree with your assessment of Saturday's DC match.


Washington, D.C.: Is the league playing Calvinball again? I've looked at the released player salaries and considered the first and second DP amounts, and I can't figure out how RBNY is below the salary cap. Is the league office selectively ignoring the rules yet again?

Steven Goff: Shhhhh.....don't speak of salary cap......MLS is listening.

No one outside the MLS star chamber knows how the salary cap works or how teams fit under it.


Washington, D.C.: Any opinion on FIFA's decision to impose an altitude limit on international games?

Steven Goff: I addressed this a little bit on the Soccer Insider yesterday. I understand the decision because altitude is certainly an issue for visiting teams, but I wonder whether other venues with extreme conditions (cold, heat) must be reviewed. Just a thought...


Alexandria, Va.: Do the Toronto FC fans make their home field atmosphere better than the one at RFK?

Steven Goff: Yes, because it is a smaller stadium and the fans provide 360 degrees of intense support. RFK is bigger and more diverse in terms of level of passion (some RFK sections are much more into the game than others). Keep in mind that this is Toronto's first season and the reception, in some respects, was expected.


MLS Club: First rule about the MLS Salary Cap is that no one talks about the MLS Salary Cap.

Steven Goff: You get the idea.

(Excuse me while I go into hiding.)


Reston, Va.: Seems to me that A LOT more players have seen the field in 2007, than in previous years.

Moose, DeRoux, Addlery, Kpene, and McTavish mainly. You've already mentioned Burch as likely to get some time, is there anyone else that seems like they'd get a crack?

Steven Goff: I imagine we will see a lot more of Dyachenko soon. He has been impressive in training, in my opinion.

Overall, yes, Soehn has integrated several young players and has positioned the roster well for later in the season when the schedule gets congested.


Vinny Chase, Malibu, Calif.: Will Eddie Johnson continue his stellar play and replace Brian McBride as the Nats go-to forward?

Steven Goff: Eddie Johnson has been outstanding so far in MLS. I am eager to see how he performs for the national team. Clearly, his time has arrived and Bradley needs him to become a consistently dangerous player on the international level.


Washington, D.C.: How strong of test will the China National team be? How many of their players play in European club teams?

Steven Goff: I believe the Chinese team will have two European players on the roster for Saturday's friendly.

The U.S. should win this match.


Lincoln, Va.: Thanks for the hard work bringing us good stories.

In your opinion, has United really gotten dramatically better since the first few games, or have they just been playing opponents they match up better against?

If they are playing better -- did the formation change help, or have they just stepped up their individual play? Are we okay to go back to a 3-5-2 for more offense?

Steven Goff: DCU has been better, but still not at championship level. The formation change has helped, for sure; they are much tighter defensively. Other factors: midfield keeping possession and Gomez's resurgence.


Washington: Do you think the general vibe among the United supporter sections at RFK has changed lately? I went to the Houston game and founded it feeling slightly more, well, perhaps "militant" is the word, if that makes any sense at all.

I love that the crowds seem to be growing, and are more knowledgeable, but I couldn't help feeling slightly uncomfortable at certain points. Perhaps it's just me, seeing too many Nats games of late.

Steven Goff: Soccer crowds will always be more passionate than baseball crowds. It's just the nature of the games.

I am not in the stands during matches, so hard for me to assess the crowd.


Boston: Why is it that MLS teams play so infrequently? Is it the fundamental physical demands of the sport or more just a scheduling strategy for TV? Manchester United can play two premiership games and a champions league match in a week, but New England needs 10 days prep between Chicago and Real Salt Lake? Why not play twice a week with periodic breaks for outside tournaments, national team games, etc.?

Steven Goff: European clubs typically play league matches on the weekend and cup competition during the week. MLS scheduling is a bit odd because there are 13 teams, at the moment, and one club must sit out each week. TV has also begun to dictate schedules (Thursday night and Sunday afternoon games).


Rockville, Md.: Can DCU realistically win silverware in 2007 with Josh Gros at left back if Soehn sticks to 4-4-2?

Steven Goff: Gros has struggled at left back and might move back into midfield, or to the bench, at some point. Stick with the Insider for updates.


Raleigh, N.C.: Good morning!

What do you think Jaime's role should be, starter who comes out around the 70th minute, or supersub? Has Soehn indicated that he might be shifting/downgrading his role? Finally, what is Jaime's contract status?

Steven Goff: The club believes Moreno will produce, maybe not to the level we are accustomed to, but still enough to make an impact. I think there will be stretches of this long season where you will see him come off the bench, particularly when United has three matches in a short period of time.

As for his contract, he did re-work his current deal this spring, although I do not know the details. As with most MLS players, though, the club usually holds an option for the following year.


Washington, DC:"I wonder whether other venues with extreme conditions (cold, heat) must be reviewed. Just a thought... "

I agree. Would the health risks associated with playing at altitude be any more serious than those associated with playing in extreme heat and humidity (e.g., World Cup '94), for example?

Steven Goff: Good point.

Even in Germany, there were some brutal conditions last summer. With climate change, things could get progressively worse, right?


College Park, Md.: Has the new TV deal caused lower attendance around the league with Thursday and Sunday games?

Who was the girl who got Boswell's jersey after the game, I'm so jealous!

Steven Goff: MLS has always played some non-Saturday games, so I don't know if there would be a noticeable difference in attendance figures for this year's Thursday-Sunday games. Without question, though, Saturday night is the best time for MLS matches.


NY, NY: Why aren't more NYC area-based fans supporting the New York Red Bulls? What else are these soccer fans expecting from a MLS franchise before going to attend matches? Are they going to wait until the team wins MLS Cup or has a new stadium before coming out again to support the team?

Steven Goff: Ten-plus years of mediocre soccer and mismanagement have taken a toll. Watching a match at Giants Stadium is not very enjoyable. Getting to Giants Stadium is not very enjoyable. Sadly, I do think it will take an extended run of prosperity this year for fans to turn out regularly. Perhaps the club will straighten out its act by the time its new stadium opens in 2008/09.


Yorktown, VA: We've seen him make brilliant passes, we've seen him make goals, we've seen him make all-star teams, we've seen him win MVP awards, but have you ever seen Christian Gomez smile?

Steven Goff: He's a pretty happy guy off the field, smiling a lot, joking with the lads, but, like many athletes, once he sets foot on the pitch, his persona changes.


Eye Street: Just to clarify, there are only four full-time USSF refs. The rest still work their non-soccer jobs to pay for it all. And the program might not continue after this year.

My question though is what happens to all the coverage of the high-quality youth teams that aren't high school teams in the area. I mean, state cup is this weekend, the college and sometimes pro coaches are there ... why does The Post insist on covering high school soccer games when we know they're not as good as the club games?

Viva the Soccer Insider!!!

Steven Goff: The Post, and most other media outlets, will never provide full coverage of club competition because, although it is a higher caliber of play, it does not represent an entire community. For example, Herndon High School represents Herndon. Folks in Herndon who might not have much interest in soccer may follow the soccer team because it represents the school as a whole. With all due respect to the superb club programs in the area, most really only represent the club itself, not the town/city/community.


Blacksburg, Va.: How come the Soccer Insider didn't have a launch party like

Steven Goff: Insider does his finest work alone in a darkened basement with doughnuts and Cheetos by his side.


Loud Side: RE: your answer to the TFC fan question.

Why doesn't United tell their ticket sellers that when selling walk-up tickets that people purchasing tickets in the 100 and 200 (and more and more 300) sections of Loud Side that people are going to be standing?

Every game a family with small kids sits down in 231 in front of me and as soon as the game starts the dad gets pissed, tells people to sit down, gets stared at like he's an idiot, and the family has to storm off to quiet side.

I can't imagine a better way of encouraging casual fans to never come back to RFK than selling them seats they can't sit in and see the game.

Steven Goff: Good point.


Logan Circle: What is your take on the Beckham situation in regards to his playing for England vs. LAG? Is the lack of Beckham at certain matches offset by the prestige of having a player being called in for one of the world's most watched national teams?

Steven Goff: Indeed, this could be a tricky situation if the Galaxy are involved in important matches and Beckham is beckoned by England. Soccer observers will understand why he skips out on an MLS game to head overseas; the general public will not.


Section 230: I hate to say it but the best signing this year will be Juan Pablo Angel. The guy is playing at a different level. Your thoughts?

Steven Goff: Angel has been very impressive. He brings a sophistication, a nuance, a speed of thought that is largely absent from MLS. But let's see how he does over the course of a long season...


Steven Goff: So many questions, so little time.

Thanks for joining us.

I'll be back in two weeks for another chat.

In the meantime, keep reading the Soccer Insider.



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